A senior who is having difficulty remembering things may suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. However, many other conditions have similar symptoms, so it is important to take the individual to a doctor for an accurate diagnosis. What should a person know about the causes of memory loss in seniors?


When an older person experiences a decline in their mental abilities, family members may automatically worry that they have dementia. This decline might affect more than just their memory. Loved ones might also see a decline in their logical thinking or language. The concern increases when these symptoms interfere with the senior’s daily life. The family may begin to look into memory care for seniors when they should actually see a doctor first.

Alzheimer’s disease is a type of neurodegenerative dementia and is also a concern when an older loved one begins declining. Sadly, Alzheimer’s disease leads to a loss of brain tissue, and doctors cannot reverse the loss at this time. They also cannot reverse vascular dementia, which is brought on by a lack of adequate blood flow to the brain. However, many other conditions cause symptoms such as these that are easily treatable.

Conditions with Symptoms Similar to Neurodegenerative Dementia

Several conditions come with symptoms similar to those seen with neurodegenerative dementia. For example, a person suffering from delirium may appear to have dementia. This delirium can be brought on by the use of recreational drugs, hypothyroidism, or hyponatremia. In addition, certain medications can bring on delirium, leading family members to believe the person has dementia. Fortunately, the symptoms can be eliminated by treating the underlying problem. If the individual resides in a senior living community, staff members can ensure the senior adhere to a treatment plan.

Depression can also bring about symptoms similar to those seen with dementia, as can sleep disturbances. The doctor will do tests to see if the person is deficient in thiamine, vitamin B-12, or folic acid, as a deficiency in these vitamins or minerals can lead to cognitive issues. Hearing and vision loss can also be a problem in individuals who appear to be suffering from dementia.

However, more serious conditions may be causing the symptoms. The person might have HIV or AIDS, suffer from a brain mass, or have cerebral vasculitis. The family must know what they are dealing with before discussing senior living options and how best to help the loved one.

Determining the Underlying Cause

When a person visits a doctor for memory loss and cognitive decline, the doctor will first ask when these symptoms became apparent. They also want to know the severity of the symptoms, the frequency, and how the symptoms affect the person’s daily life. Doctors often speak with family members in addition to the senior to get a better understanding of the problem. The senior’s medical history will be discussed along with any medications they take, and screening tests will be conducted. These tests help to rule out depression, hearing loss, and more.

The doctor may also wish to run lab tests or have the brain scanned. They need this information to diagnose the individual and treat any conditions that could be contributing to the cognitive decline. Memory loss is a normal part of aging, and these tests help rule out other conditions that could be speeding the loss.

Treating Memory Loss

Doctors cannot reverse vascular dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. However, they can change a person’s medications if they contribute to the problem or recommend glasses or a hearing aid. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies can be addressed, while depression can be treated with medication. For this reason, a person should always see a doctor and receive support for seniors before moving forward with a plan for addressing memory loss.

Seniors want to remain independent as long as possible. They don’t want to become a burden on family members. With the right medical care, the need to move into senior living or reside with a family member can often be delayed. Make an appointment for a loved one today to learn the underlying cause of the cognitive decline. For many people, the underlying cause of this loss will be dementia. That is not the case for all, however, so it never hurts to have a full medical checkup. With this checkup, the family can know exactly what they are dealing with.

About Summerfields of Encinitas

Families looking for an outstanding senior living experience for a loved one will find Summerfields of Encinitas meets their requirements. Our community offers services and amenities designed to make every resident feel right at home.